Cape Town Power Outage: the Week Ahead (6-10 March)

Capetonians can expect more blackouts this week.

  • Today’s city blackout schedule (open with MS Excel and grain of salt): click here.

The powers that be in South Africa – since I have no self-restraint, I can’t help but point out that they are the same people in control of the power that don’t be in Cape Town – are playing a high-stakes game to restore our city’s once never-interrupted supply of electricity to its former, erm, never-interruptedness. They have bargained with France to ship a spare part needed to fix the Koeberg nuclear reactor – which, because it is operating at only a fraction of its full capacity, is the immediate source of the electricity shortage problem – in exchange for various financially-onerous guarantees.

The spare part, a rotor, weighs 200 tons, and is the only such spare part currently available anwhere in the world. France was not keen to let it go, and wants it back once our own rotor is fixed. If there are any problems with the shipment, South Africa will give France the 2010 World Cup. Just kidding. But we will pick up all incidental costs – which will be staggeringly high.




Meanwhile, the medium-term outlook is equally poor, with intermittent blackouts for the city forecast through July. The variables conspiring to darken Cape Town include Eskom’s strategic unpreparedness for SA’s economic growth and power grid bedevilment. It’s complicated – for visitors, it’s probably best to just take what will seem as minor inconveniences in stride.